Now that Holy Week is over, I miss it! Some of the most beautiful experiences that I have as a Christian happen during Holy Week. When I was the pastor of the St Mary of Magada Cathedral in Fresno, CA, it was an event filled week full of activities that reconnected us to the faith & strengthened our bonds as a community.
Maundy Thursday – This commemorates the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. This coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover. Churches mark this day in various ways, including communal meals, foot washing ceremonies and bell ringing.
Good Friday – This commemorates the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and consequent death. This is the most solemn and perhaps most important day of Holy Week, with some churches observing forms of mourning practices.
Holy Saturday – This day is used to remember Jesus’ burial. This is a day for solemn reflection. Sometimes an Easter vigil may be held on Holy Saturday, while some may fast.
Pascha or Easter Sunday-The faithful recognize the resurrection. Christ is risen! Risen indeed!
I enjoy the majesty of this week. It was designed to awe the participant but with the simply symbolism. We would have the church adorned in Palms for Palm Sunday then we would strip it down on Maundy Thursday after the foot washing, draping everything in black. Anything displaying life would be covered in black linen. This powerful symbolism that Christ’s light has gone out if the world. Then we would return to church God Friday and read through the stations of the cross. Saturday morning we arrived at church early to clean everything including the altar. We would adorn everything in white and gold. Lilies would be everywhere. When the congregation arrived we would be outside. The Paschal candle would be lit the everyone else would share as the light went from candle to candle symbolizing Christ is the light of the world . We would begin singing “Alive, alive, my Jesus is alive, alive forever more 2x, alive, alive my Jesus is alive, my Jesus is alive forever more. Sing Hallelujah 2x, my Jesus is alive 2x. Sing Hallelujah 2x, my Jesus is alive forever more”. Into the church we would dance and sing. Saying, “Christ is risen”. The response is “He is risen indeed”.
Oh, and I left out the food. The bountiful vegetarian community meals we shared all week. But after the Saturday service, there was a room filled with dishes. Every possible dish including lamb.
The Easter season hopefully reignites the purpose for belief in Jesus Christ found in for God so loved the world. Love demonstrates the extreme measures that God went through to give us the opportunity to live in heaven, a place of peace. When we are loving we preserve the purpose of the season. Easter is about love that saved the world.